Last month, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided Brown v. District of Columbia, 928 F.3d 1070 (D.C. Cir. 2019), in favor of a class of about 1,000 residents of D.C.-supported nursing facilities who are seeking transfers to community-based care. The class alleged that the District failed to transition them out of the public institutions in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities by programs receiving federal assistance (here, Medicaid, which helps fund the nursing facilities).
While Wittmer does not change the federal law protecting LGBTQ people, it stands as an outlier among many recent decisions that have found that discriminating against them in the workplace is “because of sex.” The Fifth Circuit covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, all states that lack statewide protections for LGBTQ workers, and LGBTQ people in the South face higher rates of prejudice and intolerance than other parts of the country. Wittmer makes the conflict among the states and federal circuits even stronger, where LGBTQ workers can be protected in one part of our country but not in another.
Class and collective action empowers those that share the same experiences and injuries to stand together and assert their rights as a group, and they are critical to achieving widespread, systemic change. Class action waivers in mandatory arbitration agreements can erase all of these benefits, requiring employees to pursue their claims through individual arbitration.
But a series of Supreme Court decisions since the early 1980’s has largely sanctioned and accelerated the propagation of forced arbitration, including agreements that prohibit class litigation.
Our twenty-five years of litigating civil rights cases, training plaintiffs’ attorneys in complex and impact litigation, and supporting innovative social justice cases have given us a unique understanding of what it will entail to enforce the laws protecting LGBTQ people. That’s why we are launching Impact LGBTQ.
EerieAnna (27) and Carol (42) have identified as female since they were young children, and they have both undergone hormone therapy, psychological care, and the legal processes to change their names and genders. When they tried to undertake sex reassignment surgery, however, their health insurance carriers, managed by Iowa’s state Medicaid program, denied them coverage